Friday 22 November 2019

An extra week's wages? Sold!

'An extra week's wages all around. I've been Michael Noonan, thank you very much'
'An extra week's wages all around. I've been Michael Noonan, thank you very much'
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

There was a Budget during the week. I mention this only because you may have blinked and missed it. It was all over before it began really. A few people made a lame attempt to give out and then gave up really. It was slick as hell. The Government made a list and they checked it twice. Old people, families, farmers, the self-employed, Christmas bonuses all round and bang, Baldy's your uncle.

Even the daily papers, with supplements needing to be filled, seemed to slightly struggle. They could have just written in large type - 'A week's extra wages for everyone'. Uncle Baldy had boiled it down to that just in case people didn't get it. You could almost sense when he was droning through the nuts and bolts of it all, trying to look responsible and prudent, that his heart wasn't in it, that all he wanted to say was: "Let's cut to the chase here people. An extra week's wages all around. I've been Michael Noonan, thank you very much. I now hand you over to my little buddy Mr Howlin who will bore you with details but nothing that'll upset anyone unduly."

They seemed so smug that you felt there had to be a banana skin there. But we searched high and low and there was nothing. And so everyone moved on. And that, in a funny way, could be their problem now. We all accepted the week's wages as nothing less than what we deserved after we've been through, and on we went. In reality, in order to have an election that would have capitalised on that Budget, you would have nearly had to have it the day before. They've given us back some money now, it's our money anyway and we feel entitled to it. We certainly won't feel under any obligation to be grateful to them when they call to our doors in nearly six months' time looking for votes and reminding us of the Budget. By then, it will be a case of, in the words of Janet Jackson, "What have you done for me lately?"

The only slightly off note about the Budget was the fact that it seemed very generous for a €1.5bn giveaway. There was a sense of loaves and fishes about it. Until we discovered, almost by accident really, that there had been another Budget too, that was even more slick than the one on Wednesday. Apparently it happened over the weekend, and it was an even bigger giveaway. And given how generous it was, surprisingly, the Government didn't seem to want us to know about it. But naturally some pesky economist from some body we must have appointed in a moment of weakness pointed it out. They had slipped us another couple of billion of our own money on the sly. This party pooper was quickly brought to heel, but then refused to go away.

And somewhere in the backs of our heads there was a little voice saying that we should listen to this man, that we swore at some point in some other moment of weakness that we would pay attention to these lone voices of dissent. But then the phrase "an extra week's wages" came back into our heads and we decided that everything will be fine.

Sunday Independent

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